Open Source at Microsoft — Herdin’ cats or Cow Chips?


I’ve recently moved from the Federated Identity group into the Open Source Software Labs at Microsoft.  I’ve been rather busy of late, finishing up things for the Identity folks, and getting things started over here in the OSSL, so I apologize for the silence.

Many folks have been askin’ what this is all about, so I’ll try to answer the common questions right now.

What’s this new job?

I’m now the Open Source Community Lead here at Microsoft. 

I’m responsible for building and connecting an Open Source Communities around Microsoft Platforms.

This is a pretty wide reaching role, meaning that I touch a lot of ground. Some of the highlights:

  • Seeking out Open Source projects we can assist (either by contributing code, MSDN licenses or whatever 😀 )
  • Speaking/Presenting with companies, conferences, groups and people
  • Building an Open Source MVP Program
  • Enlightening Microsoft Product Groups about Open Source, and finding opportunities for them
  • Facilitating communication between open source developers and Product Groups
  • Building transparency into Microsoft and Open Source (believe it or not!)

There have been a lot of changes in Microsoft in the last few years, that folks can’t yet see, and I’m hoping to expose that type of thing to the world, and bring the world of Open Source to Microsoft.

So, what about the digital identity stuff?

Well, I’m still touching that often enough–I’m still helping get the FireFox Identity Selector stuff completed,  I’m nearly finished the last of the text for the book I’m co-authoring Understanding Windows CardSpace and, I’m spinning up a project on CodePlex for open source identity frameworks. 

I don’t get it… Microsoft and Open Source? Are you sure?

I know… I know. Y’all got some reservations about Microsoft with regards to open source.  Well, I’m not going to try convince you of anything. What I am going to do is to shine the light on the things Microsoft is doing to create communities in the Open Source world.

Add to that, I’m doin’ some rustlin’ inside of the company itself–as expected, there are a few tenderfoots ’round here who would just soon reckon’ we didn’t bother. Well, I got a cattle brand heatin’ up just for the conversation…. We’ll just see about that.


I remember what my pappy told me about tryin’ to change the world: If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya”.  Well, I’ll keep checkin’, but y’all gotta try to keep up.

Comments (8)

  1. I just got this:

    "You want to be open? Then enable anonymous commenting on your blog. So much easier for anyone to give you feedback."

    Sorry… I didn’t even know that it was set for no anonymous–FIXED.

    Although, this is a good point to make too: I’d like to know who’s talking to me 😀


  2. K says:

    I just thought I’d mention Allegiance ( to you, an open-source (well, shared-source in legalese) game that was originally developed by Microsoft Research.

  3. Darren Rush says:

    Garrett, congratulations on your new gig!  I think the Microsoft Open Source Lab is one of the best groups to be in – you’re in a perfect spot to create tremendous value for the community and help Microsoft navigate in the new world order where open source and proprietary systems can peacefully coexist.

  4. Great!

    I have an open source project, for .NET (a code generation engine). I lot of people have great open source projects (not Linux related, Windows based, .NET based), what is your plan for such projects?

  5. Garret Serack de Microsoft, ha pasado al grupo Open Source Software Labs de la misma empresa. Aunque

  6. Marcos says:

    Great News !!

    I hope you the best, the open source developers need a lot of support, in a lot of ways, at the end we are  helping to make .NET better for developers and companies, so we need to be taken into account =)

    The MSDN licenses, I think, must to be the first thing for projects with some life time, I remember that the NDoc developer dont have any VS license and was developing in Express !!! until one MVP give him an invitation.

    If you want feedback, just request it, and a lot of Open Source project leaders will be happy to help you ou help us to keep our projects running =)

    Best of luck

    Marcos Meli

    Open Source Developer –

  7. Congratulations, Garret!

    I hope you can succeed in convincing the Visual Studio team, for example, about playing well with OS .NET Projects like NUnit, NAnt, NCover and the rest, instead of coming up with their own -incompatible- tools inside VS, reinventing the wheel (and sometimes not even making a round one).

    Microsoft definitively needs to learn to leverage the OS community as a whole. Although there are groups that really get into it, the organization as a whole seems clueless.

    Best luck!

  8. Port 25 says:

    I'm pleased to announce … er, myself, as the Open Source Community Lead here at Microsoft. I'd